Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lambeau Leap

(A quick one from a couple days ago (8/8/08). Another one coming later this morning, once I get some coffee in me.

So I’m sitting here plugged into an RV electric box, and I figured it was time to get a little journal writin’ in. I’ll figure out how to get this bad boy onto the internet later. “Later” may come sooner than expected, as I’m not entirely sure if I’m allowed to be camping here in the Brown country fairgrounds just south of that hallowed football ground, Lambeau Field.

I’ve missed out on a few tourism opportunities while driving through Wisconsin; three of them passed me by in quick succession yesterday:

1. “The House On The Rock.” Apparently, it’s just what it sounds like. In any case, it featured prominently in Neil Gaiman’s excellent novel, “American Gods,” so it would have been nice to see what the real thing looked like. So it goes.
2. The Mustard Museum. This had the potential to be incredibly awesome, or hopelessly lame. Probably the latter. Still, I have to tip my hat to the man (or woman) who made their way to Wisconsin, built their museum, and said: “Fuck it. Let’s make the whole thing about mustard.”
3. I don’t know what it was, but what I did manage to read on the billboard proclaimed “60 KINDS OF CHEESE.” It doesn’t take much more than that to get me interested.

Today was a Lambeau Field day, in every possible sense. I showed up a little after 1pm and hopped on the stadium tour, which featured among other things a chance to walk down the tunnel from the locker room to the field. The very same tunnel that the players walk down before every game. The tour guide even arranged to pipe in a recording of a crowd cheering as an announcer introduced “…the GREEN BAY PACKERS!” Even in an empty stadium, it was an amazing experience. I can only imagine how it feels for a rookie to walk down that hallway as he prepares to play his first home game.

After the tour, I hit up the Packers Hall of Fame and learned all about the history of the storied franchise. What did I learn? Vince Lombardi was a badass. I also had a beer at “Curly’s Pub,” a sports bar in the stadium, and had a sandwich called the “Lambeau Leap.” It was a reuben.

And finally, because I hadn’t had enough Lambeau already, I walked over to the practice field to watch the team’s afternoon practice. Apparently, when the players make the way down to the field from the locker room, they each ride a bike provided by a local child. The kid gets to carry their helmet and run alongside the player down to the field. It’s a beautiful sight to watch these massive athletes slowly roll down the path on bikes barely capable of keeping unbroken under the weight, as very young (obvious) Packer fan runs behind them, helmet in hand, every tiny aspect of their body language screaming, “this is the greatest honor of my life!”
Not to miss out on the opportunity, I joined the kids by the field, and sharpie and hand, tried to get my football autographed. Two gentlemen were kind enough to oblige, and they may even have been players on the team! I would like to thank Mr. #26 and Mr. #44, and I’ll thank them by actual name once I actually figure out who they are. But seriously. Thanks for the autographs.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve gotten to see NFL players up so close (if ever), and one thing struck me: I’m old. At 26, I felt like damn Methuselah looking at these kids. The Packers have one of the younger teams in the league, and considering that most of the players riding my were either rookies or in their first few years, I’d bet that the average age of the bike riders was 22. Young. But *jacked. They may have had baby faces, but these guys had guns like an NRA convention. It was an abrupt departure from the downright skinny-looking players from the 1920’s and 30’s featured in the Hall of Fame.

Well, time for some sleep. It’s an early morning tomorrow, my first taste of Lake Michigan, and quite possible a tour of the Milwaukee breweries, followed by a Milwaukee Brewers game. I hear Ben Sheets is pitching!


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